An old man at physical therapy checked me out. It says something when the achy breaky boys in physical therapy are the ones who check you out, but these are my people now, so I’ll take it. I mentioned the incident to my husband, Dale, just to remind him what a catch I am.
I said you know, my longer gray hair, shorter bangs and thicker glasses -- they are not the universal turn-off I imagined. Guys check me out, I explained, trying to make it sound like it’s not safe for me to leave the house. Dale said I have that naughty librarian look.
The naughty librarian. He saw it on television, and he kind of chuckled and maybe even winked when he said it, like he was proud to be on the cutting-edge of geezer slang.
The problem is, I am more of a knotty librarian. I know this because I just graduated from physical therapy. This was all about my knees, which I hurt participating in a sports clinic two years ago. The PT said my knees were fine. My problem was tight quadriceps, pathetic abs, weak hip flexors and thick knots in the tendons of my legs. Somehow all that just made it seem like my knees hurt.
He said the acute injury started the pain ball rolling, but by my own account, there was a pre-existing pattern of abuse. Then I kept re-injuring them, and that caused all these other problems, some of which are unlikely to go away completely.
Therapy was a lot of exercises to stretch and strengthen the core. He also used cross-friction massage and heated ultrasound to break up the knots in my tendons. I always felt better after the treatment, but as soon as I’d walk or cycle or anything, the pain returned, although not as bad as when I first started therapy. But it never went away completely.
The PT explained. Apparently, I am not young anymore. I realize how dumb this sounds, but I thought I would go to physical therapy, do the hard work, the pain would go away and I could go back to doing all the things I did before. Except all the things I did before are what contributed to this problem! The bottom line is that I have to change.
What’s the quote? People don’t hate change, they just hate being changed?
The PT tells me I can walk, I can ride my bike, I can swim and I can play golf. I just can’t do them all on the same day or even back-to-back. Ideally, I should exercise every other day to give my body time to recover. Walking and cycling count as leg days -- can’t do legs two days in a row. Swimming is “nearly neutral.” As long as I can swim without pain, I can swim all I want. I should probably ride in a cart when I play golf. Me and the Flomax guys.
He also put me on a maintenance plan for stretching and strengthening the core. The exercises take about 30 minutes, and it’s just as important as cardio. News flash! Cardio is not king when you’re over 50 and the body doesn’t party like it’s 1999.
I’ve stuck to the plan for about a week now, and guess what? My knees feel pretty darned good. I am liking this plan. OK, so I have new physical limits, but I can still do a lot if I do it in a smarter way, and I suspect this is what many of us baby boomers are going to face as we age. I'm done fighting it -- now I just want to deal with it.
Knotty is bad, but naughty might be pretty good. I'll give up the punishing exercise, but I maintain that some things are worth hanging onto. The librarian gig sounds rather promising, don’t you think?